Tenth Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Luc.18. v. 9. Sunday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
At that time, Jesus spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves as being just and despised others. Two men went up to the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and began to pray thus within himself: ‘O God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men, robbers, dishonest, adulterers, or even like this publican. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I possess.’ But the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went back to his home justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.
By reason of this Pharisee & Publican, the one a lively picture of Pride, thither of Humility; these meditations shall be chiefly of Pride & Humility; and first of Humility.
There was a man amongst the Grecians called Homer so superexcellent and famous for learning, especially in Philosophy and Poetry,and withal so eloquent, that every City in Greece would strive to have Homer theirs, thinking themselves highly honored to have such a noble Citizen: So Humility is so excellent a Virtue, that all other Virtues, do in a sort challenge it to pertain unto them.
And first Temperance sayth, that Humility appertaineth unto her, and alleadgeth, that whereas every Virtue hath these two parts, namely to be good, and to be hard, or difficult to be gotten; Out of the goodness thereof, there ariseth in our minds a desire thereof, and out of the difficulty, a diffidence or distrust to obtain it, and a tediousness and loathsomeness to set upon it, and pursue it.
As for example,if you show a hare unto abound a far off, though his natural inclination be to pursue it, yet he standeth still, out of a natural instinct also, that he cannot overtake it: so a man considering the goodness and commendation of virtue, desireth it much, but considering withal the difficulty,and labor, he is deterred,and loath to set upon it.
Wherefore for the acquiring of any particular virtue there is necessary two other virtues, the one Magnanimity,to set upon it,and go through with it, with a great courage; the other Humility to moderate and temper his courage, that he take not so much upon him or exceed.
So a horseman doth with his horse, he hath spurs to put him forward when need is, he hath a bit, or bridle to moderate and hold him in, and therefore as magnanimity for her Office is accounted a part of Fortitude, so is Humility a part of Temperance for hers.
The virtue of Humility doth not only temper, and moderate our forwardness, and presumption in oral & evil actions, but much more in spiritual, acknowledging thereby our insufficiency, and weakness,or rather nothing in the sight of God, & by acknowledging the same we fly unto him, and ask of him by earnest and devout prayer, and asking it obtain it of him, that sayth, Ask & yee shall have.
This virtue did the Prophet David affirm he had obtained saying: O Lord my heart is not exalted, nor my eyes lifted up, neither have I walked in great things, nor in marvels above my power.
This virtue of Humility he challenged to himself not of ostentation or pride (for no man can be proud of Humility) but to insinuate himself into the favor of God, who is the greatest lover of Humility of any Virtue; and therefore almighty God seeing there was no man on earth, sufficient to teach it, he sent his son from heaven to be incarnate & dwell amongst men, to teach men so excellent a virtue,who proclaimed himself not only a teacher,but a practitioner of humility, in these words: Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart,and indeed there needed no more teaching then this, tht he being God, equal with his Father,would for the redemption and salvation of mankind, humble himself so much,as to take the nature of man upon him, sin only excepted,and as though that were not enough to humble himself unto death, even unto the ignominious death of the cross amongst malefactors, and as a principal malefactor himself.
In this manner, as Temperance doth challenge Humility to be hers, so do other Virtues, as in the next meditation we will show by two or three examples, concluding this with prayer for so excellent a virtue as humility, which is the ground and foundation of all other virtues;of which the Blessed Virgin Mary singing the praise of God in her hymn Magnificat,for his infinite favors unto her, omitting all other Virtues (whereof she was full,she said, that God respected her so much, for her humility and lowliness of heart,thinking & calling herself, though exalted to be the Mother of God, no better then his handmaid, nor that other, but by his singular favor.